Pulau Weh Diving

Steffen Ng, of Steffen’s Sea Sports on the island of Pulau Weh, Indonesia is quite the character. He’s simple and kind, hospitable and funny. He is always shirtless, (part of his charm) and lives the life of a true beach bum. He’ll greet you with his toothy grin and in his Chinese accent say “Make this your home,” which you easily do. He’s a no bs type of guy who was inspired in his small Malaysian town to begin diving by a cartoon he’d watch through his neighbour’s window about a scuba-diving superhero. He’s the real deal, there’s no fakeness about him and you’ll soon see why on his sign and business card it says, “Divers, move your ass, please!”

Steffen of Steffen's Sea Sports

Steffen of Steffen’s Sea Sports

Choosing to dive with Steffen’s Sea Sports was an easy one. When researching the island there were other obvious choices such as Lumba Lumba Diving Centre and two other dive centres at Pade Dive Resort and Pulau Weh Dive Resort. both part of luxury resorts.

I first began researching on websites and a few things stuck out to me. First, Lumba Lumba is Dutch owned and Steffen’s is run by Steffen of Malaysian Chinese descent. Steffen’s is the only dive shop charging local Indonesian Rupiah currency while the others charge Euros and so his dive costs are half the cost of others. It has always felt to me that I should be charged in the same currency as the destination I am travelling to. I might understand why the Dutch owners with potential responsibilities in the Netherlands are charging Euros but if I wanted to pay in Euros I’d be in Europe.

I also liked the feel of Steffen’s Sea Sports from the website and I’m used to the no frills approach of many worldwide diving centres. Diving is the focus, sometimes diving as often as 4-5 times per day so as long as the accommodations are comfortable I know I am in the right place; enjoying the destination, marine life and getting to know the staff and fellow divers.

 

Outside of cabin at Steffen's

Outside of cabin at Steffen’s

Bedroom

Bedroom

Adjacent bathroom

Adjacent bathroom

Steffen’s just sat right with me. Lai Meng, Steffen’s wife works out of their Malaysian dive shop in the Perhenitian Islands and she was always prompt and forthcoming with the information I required, especially since Matt was getting his open water certification.

My next step was to read the reviews on TripAdvisor and although there were fewer reviews about Steffen’s they were all favourable and reinforced my decision.

It was also important to research the three main beach areas of Pulau Weh and get a feel for the one we would enjoy the most. We wanted some isolation with a great beach and it seemed that Steffen’s on Ibioh Long Beach would suit us more than the tourist shop/restaurant laden beaches of Gapang, Ibioh Beach and the more isolated beach of Sumar Tiga, located next to the capital city of Sabang. Touring the island on a scooter is a great way to get a feel for the island and many choose to split their time in more than one location.

Pulau Weh diving is perfect for all levels, however, in my opinion it only has four sites that experienced divers would appreciate. If you have dived in some of the great sites on earth, such as Dahab (The Red Sea), Sulawesi and Komodo (Indonesia), Ambergris and Turneffe (Belize), Turks and Caicos (Caribbean) and  Sipidan (Borneo) then you’ll find these four sites to be suitable and you’ll be happy to dive them repetitively. Deep canyons with swaying sea fans and a brave turtle that will come up to your googles and say “hello.” Black-tip reef sharks and devil rays one day, and swimming moray eels, lionfish, frogfish and octopi the next. Steffen’s is also ideally situated minutes from the best dive sites on the island.

Dive Map at Steffen's

Dive Map at Steffen’s

Scuba diving in Pulau Weh

Scuba diving in Pulau Weh

Pulau Weh is not just for divers, snorkellers can also find some of the coolest stuff as well; turtles, sea horses, octopi etc. This makes for a fantastic destination, one in which your children can also play on the beach with Indonesian children running into the waves.

 

Gorgeous sea fans

Gorgeous sea fans

Moray Eel

Moray Eel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steffen’s unorthodox no nonsense approach to Naui certification is likely the best I’ve seen. Don’t worry if you’re only familiar with Padi certification, Naui is just as accepted and I find more common in Asia. He doesn’t exactly do it by the books because for him the practical approach later subsidized with book learning means that you’ll perfect your life-saving skills, repeating them until any potential fear is gone. Even I, after hundreds of dives still didn’t love the thought of having my mask knocked off my face at 70’, however, now in thanks to Steffen I feel much better; afterall it’s the panic that does the most harm. Those who have done their dive certification can attest to the few minutes that are spent doing mask clearing exercises, however, spending half an hour in the salt water with no mask, opening our eyes, putting the mask on underwater and then clearing it is really the best way to feel comfortable. Don’t worry, you’re breathing fine, your regulator is there.

Dive Instruction - Mask clearing

Dive Instruction – Mask clearing

Dive Instruction - Mask Clearing Underwater

Dive Instruction – Mask Clearing Underwater

It doesn’t get much better than enjoying great diving, spending your day reading in the hammocks at Seulako View Cottages next door, chilling by the ocean and ending your day with the delicious Indonesian cuisine at Seulako or the mouthwatering Italian grub down the beach with Eva at Bixio Café. You can also make your own food in the communal kitchen at Steffen’s and many Malaysians and Indonesians do, but you can also relax, sit back and order up chicken curry and rice or a fresh vegetable salad for about $2 CAD.

Ibioh Long Beach, Pulau Weh

Ibioh Long Beach, Pulau Weh

Steffen, it was such a pleasure getting to know you and your friendly staff. You made us feel like family and hopefully we’ll be back one day! We will never forget you and our time on Pulau Weh’s Ibioh Long Beach.

For more on Pulau Weh, read here.

4 Responses to Pulau Weh Diving

  1. Aah finally! I read this post… hugs!

    Travel Junkie Indonesia July 29, 2013 at 10:01 AM Reply
    • Cool! There are few posts up now on Pulau Weh. Thanks for reading!

      Julie Munsch July 29, 2013 at 10:19 PM Reply
  2. Hi Julie, nice info. We are slowly heading towards Pulau Weh. You say there are only 4 great dive sites around Pulau Weh, can you please give me the names. I don’t find a website for Steffen’s do you know where I can see the dive prices? Thank you.

    Campbell July 20, 2016 at 6:39 AM Reply
    • I’m not sure it’s still open..perhaps do some research online and hopefully you can find what you’re looking for. Thanks for reading!

      Julie Munsch July 22, 2016 at 3:44 PM Reply

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Pulau Weh Booking Information – Dirty Details

Read here for our account of Pulau Weh diving Read here for our experience in Pulau Weh NOTE: The PDF guide to Pulau Weh (at the end of this document) is the most recent one we could find on the island, from 2008. Times and prices will have likely changed.   Indonesian Travel Visa – […]

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